Character Development: The Third Dimension

Frodo in Ralph Bakshi's animated version of Th...

Frodo in Ralph Bakshi’s animated version of The Lord of the Rings. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the most important and overlooked facets of writing is character development. People frequently focus on plot elements, description, dialogue, and all the other building blocks of good writing, but character development falls through the cracks. It could be because people aren’t certain what character development is or how to affect it, and that is why I am writing on this subject.

The development the characters go through deepens the series and creates a more believable arc than merely the events of the plot alone. I’ll likely be doing several blog posts on the subject, but my focus is to introduce you to the idea first. Keep in mind these characters are people, and people are altered by the experiences they have. Think about some formative experiences you’ve had in your life and evaluate how they’ve changed you. From there consider how these experiences may change the characters you create.

We are expected to think of characters as real people. With that regard we need to realize that they change over time. A lot of the time people think the plot is the important point and characters are vehicles to drive the plot. While that is to some extent true the experiences the characters go through during the story will change them. A good example is the Lord of the Rings character, Frodo.

Frodo begins his experiences in the Shire as an innocent character. He’s childish, straightforward, and reckless. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but as he endures the trials and hardships of the story, notably bearing the ring, he changes. He becomes darker and more angry. More mature in some regards and less mature in others. By the end of the series he is irrevocably changed by the experience and is no longer the innocent, wide-eyed character he was at the beginning. The Harry Potter series does similar things with its characters. They begin innocent and young and end mature, somber, and focused.

I’ll speak more on this next week, but chew over these thoughts in the meantime.

As a side note, my honeymoon went wonderfully, and I am glad to be back.  I also have been promoted to Editor-in-Chief with Eat Sleep Write and will be working there doing submissions. Anyone interested in contributing a short story, lesson, excerpt, or doing a podcast please feel free to check out our guidelines at http://www.eatsleepwrite.net/submissions . If you have questions about the process and about the website please don’t hesitate to contact me at beth@eatsleepwrite.net!

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One thought on “Character Development: The Third Dimension

  1. Helen Bellamy says:

    I know how busy you are, Beth, both in your personal life (hope you are both doing as well as possible), and in your professional life. But I want you to know that I miss your excellent writing lessons/discourses/illuminations. Take this one, for example – no, don’t take it – I want to keep it to continue to review as needed. Thanks for being such a great teacher. HB

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